SLO County students join statewide walkout over vaccine mandate

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

At least hundreds, and possibly thousands, of San Luis Obispo County parents pulled their children out of school as part of a statewide walkout Monday in protest of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schools. [Tribune]

The governor’s mandate requiring the vaccine in order for children to attend schools in-person will take effect following the shot gaining full federal Food and Drug Administration approval. Initially, the mandate will apply to seventh through 12th grade students. Later, it will apply to kindergarten through sixth grade students. 

It is unclear exactly how many SLO County students did not attend class during the walkout, but some districts had numerous empty desks.

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District had 1,780 absences on Monday, meaning about 27 percent of the district’s students were out of class. The district typically has about 760 absences on an average school day.

Atascadero Unified School District had an absence rate on Monday about 20 to 25 percent higher than usual. 

San Luis Coastal Unified School District had 103 absences because of the vaccine mandate protest. About 1.3% of San Luis Coastal students were missing from school due to the walkout. 

Attendance at Lucia Mar Unified School District campuses was slightly lower than usual on Monday. 

In addition to the walkout, hundreds of parents and children protested Newsom’s vaccine mandate outside the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department on Johnson Avenue in San Luis Obispo. Parents and children held signs and rang cowbells outside the health department.

Jennifer Grinager, the SLO County chapter chair of Moms for Liberty, said government should not be telling people they must get vaccinated, and the decision should be between individuals and their doctors. 

Similar demonstrations took place statewide. In Sacramento, more than 1,000 demonstrators protested the vaccine mandate for school children outside the state Capitol.

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